Getting the most from your combine means keeping up with maintenance year-round to ensure it’s always performing at its best.
Regularly checking your combine for wear or other problems will help prevent costly repairs and unexpected breakdowns. While some recommend checking the combine at night after it’s been running, doing so can cause you to miss problems because of the dark — so checking first thing in the morning before a long day of work is your best shot for spotting any issues. If you choose to inspect your combine at night, make sure your work area is well lit to allow you to see any potential problems.
● Check the fuel level and fill machine if necessary
● Check engine and hydraulic oil levels
● Search for bearings that are out
● Check for cracks or wear in critical pieces
● Grease all zerk fittings
● Check air filters for cleanliness
● Change oil if the combine has been sitting unused
● Adjust chains for tightness
● Check the radiators for water levels
● Empty rock traps
● Check air pressure in the tires, once a week
● Check for cracks in the shoes, shaker pans or walkers
● Visually inspect for wear on bearings, chains, belts, sprockets, injector lines and sickle sections
Wintertime maintenance is absolutely critical for getting your combine machine ready for harvest season. Learning how to go through your combine yourself is much more cost-efficient than taking it into a dealer to be serviced.
● Clean the combine with a power wash and a quick wax
● Run the machine for about an hour, check if bearings are warm and look for cracks in belts
● If there is a combine clinic near you, go there to learn information about your machine, diagnostics and how to inspect for and fix common problems
● Check all lights
● Tighten all belts
● Check all chains for tightness and wear
● Replace all chains every other year
● Check the feeder house floor for wear and see if it needs repaired or rebuilt
● Inspect cylinder bars for wear and straightness
● Check walker bearings for cracks and wear
● Weld any cracks
When the hard work is done and it’s time to put your equipment away, make sure your combine is ready to go next season by properly storing it.
● Store all combines indoors if possible to protect them from the elements
● Open cleanout doors and empty the stone trap
● Remove the shields and thoroughly blow out areas of the machine with compressed air
● Coat augers, chains and any areas that are exposed to grain movement with grease or another rust preventative
While the to-do list for maintaining your combine may seem time-consuming, keeping up with your machine’s maintenance will save you time and money in the long run. Combining preventative maintenance with year-round care will ensure a smooth harvest season and keep your expensive machine working for years to come.
Photo by Gregory Poole CAT